IF WE WANT TO HELP FARMERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES, WE MUST GIVE THE COMPETITION WATCHDOG MORE TEETH, Huffington Post, 4 November 2016
LOCKING SOMEONE UP COSTS AROUND $300 A DAY OR ABOUT $110,000 A YEAR, The Canberra Times, 14 November 2016
You might not know it to watch the news, but on many measures, Australia is becoming safer. In the past two decades, the murder rate has fallen by one-third. The rate of armed robberies has dropped by one-third. Car theft is down by two-thirds.
And yet while crime is falling, our prison population is rising at an alarming rate. In June, 38,685 people were in jail. At the current pace, the prison population will soon pass 40,000. If our jail population were a city, it would be the 36th-largest city in Australia – larger than Albany, Bathurst or Devonport.
As a share of population, I estimate that Australia now jails 207 in every 100,000 adults. That's a higher incarceration rate than in most other nations. To take just a few examples, imprisonment rates in Australia are higher than those in Canada, Japan, France, India, Germany, Indonesia or Britain.
Curious to know how the current lock-up rate compares with Australia's past, I dusted off some old statistical volumes and started comparing the figures. I was shocked to discover that the last time our incarceration rate was this high was 1901.Read more
Representatives from the local community today met Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, and Member for Bass, Ross Hart, to discuss their concerns that Northern Tasmania is missing out on local jobs while the tax system continues to favour multinational companies and wealthy individuals.
“People in the Launceston community are really feeling the Turnbull Government cuts to childcare, aged care and education. Along with cuts to welfare and job-training programs, all of these decisions will increase inequality in Northern Tasmania,” said Mr Hart.
“They hear the government beat its chest every week about creating jobs – and they want to know why so many people in their community can’t find any work.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2016
Those of us who sit in this House are here because people put their faith in our undertaking to represent their best interests. This bill, the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016, would permanently exclude any person who comes here by boat from ever entering Australia. In proposing this measure, the government has made a political gesture that is in no-one's best interests—not those sitting in Manus and Nauru, not those refugees who have come to Australia in the past and not those Australians who are concerned to see that our tax dollars are spent wisely and our migration program is an orderly one.
This is gesture politics at its worst, with all of the effectiveness of the pledge by candidate Trump to build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. That is how effective this proposal would be. It asks people to make peace with the pettiest and meanest instincts, by dressing up those instincts as strength and certainty. It trades on fear and demonisation of the other, aiming to set up a dichotomy between us and them, hoping that Australians will forget the refugees who have come here in the past, who have helped to make Australia richer, more diverse and more interesting; refugees—from Anh Do to Frank Lowy to Les Murray—who have enriched our country.
It is a bill that demeans the elements of the coalition who have instigated it, and it is a bill that has incensed my electorate. As one of my electors wrote to me:
"I was so disheartened today to read of Mr Turnbull's plans to introduce legislation to the Parliament in the next session that any person seeking asylum who has travelled to Australia via a boat will be banned from ever entering this country...One of our dearest friends, who sadly died last year, was a boat person. He, with his family, escaped Hungary in the 1950s and made his way to Australia...Please do not bend to the far-right bigotry that is holding this government to ransom and do not vote for this ghastly piece of legislation."Read more
The Turnbull Government has broken its promise to Australian small business owners to hold an independent review into a key automotive repair industry agreement within three months of the 2016 federal election.
It has been reported today that independent car service and repair businesses are complaining that they get limited access to standard servicing information from car manufacturers, despite the 2014 Agreement on Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicles.
As a result, their ability to offer competitive or even cheaper car servicing prices to consumers faces significant restrictions.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2016
In the 240-year history of the American republic, no candidate has ever before been elected president without previous military, executive or legislative office. Elections determine power, not truth. It remains true today as it was yesterday that Donald Trump has called women ‘pigs’ and has made fun of a reporter with a disability. He has advocated a ban on Muslim migration and has called Mexicans criminals and rapists. He has claimed that President Obama was born in Kenya and only admitted to Harvard through affirmative action. He has dismissed an American born judge as a ‘Mexican’ who would not fairly hear his case and attacked the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in action.
As Nick Kristof, the New York Times columnist, noted summarising Trump's behaviour over four decades, 'I don't see what else to call it but racism.' These remain facts and those who say that the people in Australia should refrain from stating these facts are effectively saying that when someone is powerful, we should not call out sexism and racism. It was reasonable for those on the other side of the House to describe Mr Trump as 'terrifying', 'kind of weird' and his comments on women 'loathsome'. And those who made these comments should not now refrain from them.
What should progressives do on the day after a Trump victory? A temptation is to retreat but it is vital to remember that reform is two steps forward, one step back. As the great American Martin Luther King once wrote, 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.' The great American Martha Nussbaum wrote that many of those who transformed their countries have drawn on the ethic of love including Jawaharlal Nehru, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel. As the great American Barack Obama once put it, '… whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose.' And an increased partisanship cannot be met by increased partisanship.
Today is the day in which many progressives are naturally sad and angry, wishing to pull the blanket over their heads and retreat from political life. But I urge progressives to remember the words of another great American progressive, United States senator Cory Booker, who spoke about the politics of love at the recent Democratic National Convention. He concluded with a wry smile that 'love trumps hate'. Maybe not every day, but in the long run.
OLD PARLIAMENT HOUSE , CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2016
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
Last month, Australian life expectancy hit a new high – 80.4 years for men, and 85.5 years for women. That means a baby born today can expect to enjoy about 30,000 days on the planet.
You can see this as a lot or a little. Compared with past generations, this is an extraordinary amount of time. In cosmic terms, it’s a mere blip.
But rather than asking “how long do I have?”, the better question is “what can I do with the time that I have?”. For most of us, that comes down to doing good work. A typical career lasts around 80,000 hours of work. How do we make the most of that time?
Adam Smith, one of the founders of modern economics, is best known for his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. But in an earlier work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith gave what I think is one of the best answers to the question of how we should spend our lives. He wrote:
‘To be amiable and to be meritorious; that is, to deserve love and to deserve reward, are the great characters of virtue… The consciousness that it is the object of such favourable regards, is the source of that inward tranquillity and self-satisfaction with which it is naturally attended… Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely; or to be that thing which is the natural and proper object of love.’
Talking with people in business, I’m often struck by how well Smith’s words encapsulate what we do. Most people don’t just want to make money; they want to be the kind of person that others look up to. In Smith’s formulation, most of us want to be ‘lovely’.Read more
Today the Turnbull Government has taken its attack on the public servants at the Australian Bureau of Statistics to the next level.
Agency management have just announced to its staff that up to 150 jobs need to be cut in the next few months.
The ABS is announcing these job cuts just two weeks after admitting to a Senate Economics Committee that it will be spending an extra $30 million trying to fix the 2016 Census – the worst census ever and one of Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest stuff-ups.
Now the very public servants who have worked so hard to rescue the census disaster are being forced to pay the price for the Turnbull Government’s mismanagement with their jobs.Read more
This week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's found that there's too much bull in the cattle industry. Buyers colluding to keep prices down, saleyards altering cattle weights, agents who act for both buyers and sellers.
The report discusses bid-rigging, physical intimidation and intense social pressure on rural families. The competition watchdog is so concerned that it is now undertaking multiple investigations of cartel conduct in the industry: an offence which carries a potential jail term.
The Australian cattle and beef industry is vital to our economy and our society. It contributes $11 billion a year to the Australian economy. It is the largest contributor to the Australian agricultural sector. Half of our 123,000 farms are engaged in cattle production. In the list of industries you want to make sure are functioning well, Australia's cattle industry is surely near the top.
WHEN BUSINESS DOESN'T PAY ITS BILLS, The Daily Telegraph, 3 November 2016
Yesterday, I rang my supermarket. It was just a courtesy call, letting them know that from now on I would be paying for my groceries 60 days after scanning them at the checkout. I assured them it was nothing personal – simply a matter of improving my cash flow.
Alright, I’m pulling your leg. But you can only imagine a company’s reaction to getting such a call from a regular consumer. Yet this is exactly what many large Australian companies are doing to their suppliers right now.
Earlier this year Rio Tinto told many of its suppliers that, with no compensation, it would now pay its bills after 90 days instead of 45 days (in 2014 it was 30 days). This followed BHP’s decision last year to pay its suppliers after 60 days instead of 30 days. Woolworths is also reportedly increasing its payment terms from 30 days to 60 days. Mars, Kellogg, Procter & Gamble and Heinz are also pushing for more generous payment terms. In April, Murray Goulburn retrospectively cut the price it paid to farmers, then asked them to pay back the difference.Read more
Vale Chris Stokman, The Chronicle, 1 November 2016
In 2005, a group of community activists at the Canberra City Uniting Church established an Early Morning Centre to provide breakfast to those sleeping rough or doing it tough. For nine years, until her unexpected passing earlier this month, the Early Morning Centre has been run by Chris Stokman, one of Canberra's great community activists.
Chris loved Canberra. She had worked in the federal public service, she knew the nooks of our city, and she never wanted to live anywhere else. And she was the best of Canberra: a woman who was always more interested in helping others than looking after herself.
Under Chris's leadership, the Early Morning Centre grew from providing breakfast to offering legal support, basic medical care, shower facilities and laundry - critical services for those sleeping rough.Read more